Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- New York’s offensive line has been decimated by injuries and now will be without Shane Lemieux, who tore his bicep in Wednesday’s practice.
- Four other offensive linemen did no practice Wednesday – Evan Neal, Matt Peart, John Schmitz, and Andrew Thomas.
- QB Daniel Jones and RB Saquon Barkley both managed limited sessions Wednesday, most notably placing Daniel Jones in line to potentially make his return from a one game absence.
- That said, Jones was second in line in team throwing drills on both Wednesday and Thursday behind Tyrod Taylor, and he has yet to be cleared for contact.
- First-round rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes was benched in Week 6 but could find himself back in the starting lineup for the Commanders after Kendall Fuller missed practice Wednesday with a knee injury.
How washington Will Try To Win ::
Washington’s 28.9 seconds per play ranks 20th in the league while their offensive game plans have more or less been fluid from game to game. On the top level, their third-ranked pass rate over expectation (PROE) hints at a game plan that involves airing it out from the beginning of the game. But this offense is honestly more prone to taking their play calling to the extremes based on the early game environment they find themselves in as opposed to simply coming out firing through the air from the jump. An inability to consistently sustain drives has led to the Commanders averaging just 62.0 offensive plays per game, leaving their pass volume, rush volume, and overall play volume highly dependent on game environment as opposed to them forcing the issue on offense themselves. Offensive line struggles have also contributed heavily to the wide range of outcomes we’ve seen from this team. They have been all over the map and highly inconsistent overall, narrowly beating the Cardinals in Week 1, erupting against the poor defense of the Broncos in Week 2, getting laughed off the field in a 37-3 loss to the Bills in Week 3, playing a good Eagles team to an overtime loss in Week 4, getting laughed off the field by the Bears (of all teams) in Week 5, and taking down a gritty Falcons team in Week 6. We’ve seen it all with this team through six weeks. Since this team has primarily played to their opponent to start the season, I would expect a more muted game plan against the reeling Giants that is likely to start with a balanced plan that morphs to the game environment as the game progresses.
Helping that likely design is a Giants defense allowing 1.76 yards before contact per carry this season, second worst in the league behind only the Chargers. Furthermore, the typically low red zone touchdown rates surrendered by Wink Martindale’s defense have ballooned to almost 62 percent through six weeks of the 2023 season. I don’t see anything to classify that shift outside of variance. As in, there’s nothing I see from a situational play calling perspective that would explain the increase in red zone touchdown rate allowed. Either way, the Commanders have been one of the most lethal offenses in the red zone with a touchdown rate to match the 62 percent allowed by the Giants, which should serve to allow the Commanders to remain run-balanced for deeper into the game. Similar to the overall tendencies exhibited by this offense through six weeks, the backfield split has been largely up to the game environment the Commanders find themselves in. And that’s particularly speaking to the distribution of opportunities and less to the actual snap rate share between lead back Brian Robinson and change of pace back Antonio Gibson, as each is playing fairly consistent snap rates. In games the Commanders are allowed to control on the ground, Brian Robinson has four of his five touchdowns (Cardinals, Broncos, Falcons) while he has just one touchdown against the Bills, Eagles, and Bears. Even while sharing the backfield with Robinson, Gibson has just 16 carries and 13 receptions through six games played, or just under five opportunities per game. He should remain off our radar for the time being.
The pass offense has quite honestly been maddening to this point in the season behind an offensive line allowing the fourth highest pressure rate in the league (behind just the Seahawks, Giants, and Patriots). Even through the ineffective play from the offensive line, Sam Howell has not been terrible in his first true stint as the starting quarterback in this offense. His 7.8 intended air yards per attempt (IAY/PA) ranks 15th in the league, while attempting the fifth most passes with the eighth most air yards. Turnovers have been the primary concern with Howell, having thrown more interceptable passes (11) than touchdowns (nine) while also losing a fumble. When Howell is able to diagnose a defense and get rid of the football, he has been an above average quarterback – even when pressured (fourth best completion rate when under pressure, 11th best accuracy rating when under pressure). That’s important against the Giants because of Wink Martindale’s elevated blitz rates and due to the sheer number of sacks Howell has taken this season. In other words, we could see a wide range of outcomes resulting from the elevated blitz rates from Martindale here; either they get home and start disrupting drives against a sack-prone quarterback, or Howell is able to get the ball out with a high degree of accuracy and chew up the second level from the Giants (and everything in between). The Commanders have run primarily from 11- and 12-personnel dependent on game flow this season, with Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Logan Thomas the near every-down pass-catchers and Curtis Samuel the slot man that also sees schemed usage. The Giants have been in man coverage at the fifth highest rate in the league this season, against which the leading receiver for the Commanders is actually Curtis Samuel (lolz) with 0.49 fantasy points per route run and a 70.9 receiving grade against man coverage this season (both lead the team). From a micro matchup perspective, McLaurin could return an elite fantasy score against Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins after seeing double-digit targets twice in the previous three games, assuming Adoree’ Jackson misses with his neck injury. Jackson got in a limited session Wednesday but could miss Week 7 due to the nature of his injury.